A Palestinian boy and Israeli soldier face off in front of the West Bank Barrier.

Photograph by Justin McIntosh, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
  • On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion that Israel’s West Bank Barrier violates international law. The West Bank Barrier, also called the separation or security fence, demarcates the West Bank, the largest of Israel’s Palestinian Territories. The barrier also divides areas within the West Bank itself, creating walled enclaves, most notably in East Jerusalem. The barrier is still under construction and when completed will stretch about 700 kilometers (430 miles).

    Supporters of the barrier say that it protects Israel from Palestinian terrorists. Fences and walls protect Israeli civilians from gunfire and cities from bombings. Those who object to the barrier say that it has limited the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank for work, school, or medical reasons.

    The ICJ called for the barrier to be removed and Palestinians compensated for their losses. The court’s ruling, however, is non-binding and has had little effect, as Israel has continued to construct the wall.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    barrier Noun

    obstacle or object that prevents movement.

    civilian Noun

    person who is not in the military.

    compensate Verb

    to make up for a loss or injury, usually in money, goods, or services.

    International Court of Justice (ICJ) Noun

    United Nations body dedicated to resolving legal disputes between nations.

    Palestine Noun

    region in the Middle East now occupied by Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

    terrorist Adjective

    having to do with the use of non-military violence and/or threats of violence to achieve or advocate political change.